The federal government is refusing to budge on its record immigration targets despite concerns among Canadians about a housing shortage.
Newly appointed Immigration Minister Marc Miller said that the Liberal government would keep its current half a million annual target and might even consider raising it in the near future.
“I don’t see a world in which we lower it, the need is too great,” said Miller.
“Whether we revise them upwards or not is something that I have to look at. But certainly I don’t think we’re in any position of wanting to lower them by any stretch of the imagination.”
According to calculations by Bloomberg based on Statistics Canada data and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, for each newly constructed unit of housing, 4 to 5 immigrants arrived in Canada over the past year – the highest it’s ever been since data started being collected in 1977.
“We have to get away from this notion that immigrants are the major cause of housing pressures and the increase in home prices,” claimed Miller.
“We tend not to think in longer historical arcs or in generational terms, but if people want dental care, health care and affordable housing that they expect, the best way to do that is to get that skilled labor in this country.”
However, some prominent figures disagree with Miller’s assertion that the record number of immigrants isn’t causing a strain on housing.
In June, National Bank Financial’s Chief Economist Marion said that the Liberal government’s decision to open the “immigration floodgates” is a major part of the problem.
“Ottawa should consider revising its immigration targets to allow supply to catch up with demand,” said Marion.
According to a recent Abacus Data poll, Canadians overwhelmingly seem to agree that the target needs to be tempered.
A total of 61% of Canadians said that the Liberal government’s target was too high while 63% said that immigration is leading to problems in the housing market.